Montreal Canadiens AHL Affiliate | Laval Rocket News: Charlie Lindgren Recalled, Lukas Vejdemo’s Progression, Karl Alzner, Brett Lernout, Roster Updates, Ticket Prices

Charlie Lindgren (Photo by Laval Rocket)

by Chris G, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

ROCKET SPORTS MEDIA | LAVAL, QC. — The Rocket collected five of the possible ten points since the last column, and are currently nine points out of a playoff spot with 15 games remaining in the regular season.

Last week, Laval played two games against Toronto and lost both games. On Wednesday night, the game was decided by a goal scored 39 seconds into overtime that gave the Marlies a 4-3 win in overtime, and on Friday, Michael Hutchinson stole the show by stopping 42 shots to give his team a 3-0 win. On Saturday night, the Rocket scored four unanswered goals in the third period to win 5-3 against the Comets, direct rivals for the final playoff spot in the North Division.

This week, Laval ends their four game home stand on Wednesday night as the Syracuse Crunch visit Place Bell, and then on the weekend, the Rocket face the Senators twice in Belleville. Three more important games in their attempt to clinch a playoff spot.

My top-5 Rocket takes of the week

Lindgren Recalled

Following another bad performance by Antti Niemi against the Sharks last Thursday, the discussion of Carey Price‘s back up intensified. The option of calling up Charlie Lindgren had been dismissed by some commentators and fans.

Our AHL Report team was of a different opinion. Apparently so was the Canadiens organization, as Lindgren was recalled by Montreal on Monday. As I wrote in the last Take 5, I think that Lindgren has been going through a tough stretch since returning from injury.

“It’s been one of those seasons again, where it’s kind of been up and down,” said Lindgren on Saturday. “He’s not having the season he wanted,” said Joel Bouchard. Lindgren missed more than six weeks of action due to a lower-body injury earlier this season.

“I’ve seen players who have been more or less good in the AHL and have had great careers in the NHL. The adversity he faced with injuries this season is also a reality for him.”

If the organization wasn’t happy with Lindgren’s performances or if they didn’t see potential in him, he wouldn’t have been getting regular starts in goal for Laval. It wouldn’t happen especially not in the middle of a race to clinch a playoff spot.

I think that the team’s plan heading into the season was to have Lindgren play a lot of games this season in Laval in preparation of him becoming Price’s backup next season. Monday’s decision seems to be that they are maintaining that direction.

Vejdemo’s Progression

With Byron Froese recently traded to the Philadelphia Flyers, Michael Chaput traded on NHL deadline day to the Arizona Coyotes, and Michael McCarron being sidelined for the rest of the season, Bouchard has had to increase the responsibilities of some of the young players on his team.

The four players for Saturday’s against the Comets playing at centre were: Jake Evans, Lukas Vejdemo, Hayden Verbeek, and Michael Pezzetta. None of these players had any experience in the AHL before the start of this season.

From that list, the one that has stood out the most to me has been Vejdemo. He started off the season in a more defensive role, playing as a third line centre and on the penalty kill unit. Now, he’s also playing on the second line and on the power play. He has put up five goals and five assists in his last 11 games.

“Lukas is really fast, he’s really poised with the puck,” said Alexandre Alain on Friday. Alain has been playing on the same line with Vejdemo for the last nine games.

“We’re giving him responsibility,” said Bouchard. “I like the way he’s been playing the last few weeks. It’s a long season for him, it’s an adjustment to North American hockey. I’m demanding a lot from him.”

Vejdemo has potential in having a depth role in the NHL. I’m looking forward to see how his development progresses.

Alzner + Lernout

Contrary to their forwards, Laval has had a lot of experience at the blue line. Since the start of the season, the Rocket have had several players with a significant amount of NHL games under their belt.

On the current roster, the most reliable defensive pairing consists of Karl Alzner and Brett Lernout. They are the team leaders in the plus/minus category at plus-10 and plus-11 respectively. They are not the fastest and not the most offensively gifted defensemen on the team, but when they are on the ice, Bouchard knows that he will get solid defensive play from them. Their numbers get called first when the team goes on the penalty kill.

“I love playing with him,” said Alzner about his partner Lernout. “I love his game, he’s hard nosed, he brings energy, keeps it super simple.[…] I think both of us, it’s not in our game but we would like to help out a little bit more where our team is lacking, and that scoring a few more goals.”

Roster Moves

It can be difficult to follow all the roster moves that a team in the AHL has to make on a daily basis, due to recalls to the NHL and to injuries.

Joe Cox signed a professional tryout contract with Laval and scored his first AHL goal on Saturday and it was an important one, the game winning goal. Cox has primarily been playing on the first line with Jake Evans since joining the team.

Alex Kile signed a second professional with the team. In 20 games with the Rocket, Kile has five points and is also benefiting from increased responsibilities, playing on the second power play unit.

Phelix Martineau was assigned to Fort Wayne in the ECHL after collecting four points in 25 games in the AHL. Martineau provided a lot of energy when he first joined the team, but became less noticeable as time went on.

Adam Plant was traded to Milwaukee on the AHL trade deadline day in return for future considerations. No surprise as Plant only played 14 games this season.

Noah Juulsen has been on the ice for the last couple of weeks. That’s excellent news as it looks like there’s a possibility that he plays again this season. Marc Bergevin recently said that it’s unlikely that Juulsen returns this season but will be ready for September.

Ticket Prices

Saturday’s game at Place Bell was played in front of a sold out crowd of 9609 fans. That’s the highest attendance since last season’s home opener. A lot of atmosphere in the building, especially in the third period as Laval was pressing to tie the game.

“It’s so fun. We got by far the best crowd in the whole league. [..] They were great, they were loud and they really got behind us” said Lindgren on Saturday. “The fans are amazing here. They bring so much energy, it’s loud” added Xavier Ouellet. 

The organization announced last week that they will be reducing ticket prices next season.  The prices will be in the range of $19 to $39. I think it’s great value for some good quality hockey.

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